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I’m definitely going to keep him.

Oddly, I have two posts in a row about my husband … I’ve been too busy with the roof and the other outside stuff to slow down, but this is just too, too, well, see for yourself:

I had to race home early from work yesterday with a malady of GI tract proportions.

John and Cooper met me happily at the door exclaiming their excitement that I’d come home early, but I rushed past them to through my purse, keys and papers on the floor, saying “I’m sick, bring a garbage bag to the bathroom!”

And he showed up to empty garbage from the pale, and put a clean liner in it and set it within reach in front of me, and asked if I needed anything more and left me to my misery, all with the efficiency of a nurse.

Later, as I flumped into bed and burrowed under the covers, I put in a request for Gatorade and ginger ale, both requiring a trip to the store.

I fell asleep.

He went hell-on-wheels shopping for mega-groceries.

When I woke up later he brought me a Gatorade and listed off a few more things he’d purchased — comfort foods to help comfort me in my hour(s) of intestinal distress/dead-asleepness.

I wandered out to the kitchen later to see heaped on the counter: the largest container of Gatorade mix available outside of the commercial wholesale marketplace, a 2-liter diet ginger ale, a 12-pack of regular ginger ale, a bag of triple-chocolate cookies, a bag of mint Oreos (“sorry, they didn’t have them in double-stuff”), bananas, two boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios (we tried to buy them on sale at Walmart Saturday, but somehow they didn’t make it home with us, I was terribly disappointed, but not anymore), string cheese (“and look,” he said, “it’s Cheesehead cheese.”), four Ramen noodle packs, five apples (because that’s his rule), tropical fruit trail mix and Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos.

At the time, I just smiled, which was more than I thought I had in me.

But this morning, as I was telling the story to a co-worker, I imagined John rushing through the store, grabbing every comfort food he could imagine me, or him, wanting, worrying about whether I would want regular or diet ginger ale and searching the aisle frantically for both, and being so obviously torn between buying good for me foods and all the not-so-good for me foods that I like. … Honestly, though, two bags of cookies and spicy hot Cheetos for a person in intestinal agony? I laughed so hard I cried.

My guts won’t be right enough for Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos for a while, but by-gawd, I got ’em.

And a few cookies didn’t kill me none at all today at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

(Author’s note: I’m pretty sure the problem was too many days of mild dehydration = total dehydration and a core system meltdown. Is it totally weird to not like water?)

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Remember when I said this is The Year of Living Give-A-Shitly? It’s still hit and miss, but I do have some successes.

In May I did the 30-Day Ab Challenge and, sure, I had to substitute almost all crunches for the situps because my chiropractor assures me that the best thing to come of me doing sit-ups is that he will be able to make payments on a new pickup truck. Point taken, man. But I really did do 20 sit-ups, 305 crunches, 65 leg raises and 120 seconds of plank in the last exercise session. It was amazingly possible. And, yes, I did feel pretty awesome. Pretty exhausted by Day 30, but awesome, and I had a four-out-of-the-six pack — a huge step up from the pony keg I had been sporting for a while.

June was going to be the month of the 30-Day Booty Challenge, but by Day 12 my thigh muscles had bulked up so much they’d grown out of two pairs of pants. That was bad. Bad, bad, bad. I quit and spent my time doing outside work … and then spent a few weeks of July rehabbing my back, but that’s another story for a day when we’re talking about things other than success. Note to self, though: Just because a full tank of gas in the riding lawn mower lasts three hours, that doesn’t mean I should mow for three straight hours. Weird, right?

Despite the days of handicap, I’ve gotten boat-loads of spraying, mowing and weed-eating done. I’m still behind. We don’t have a functioning tractor this summer and that significantly ups the weed total, and my frustration level. I slog on … whilst trying not to do things in a way that will injure myself, which means, no hyper-focusing allowed. That’s not frustrating at all … ahem, but not all bad things came of the little stint of stupid back rehabbing.

The gist of that story is:

I was standing out in the yard one day, admiring the view, with hands on hips, elbows and shoulders out wide and feet braced shoulder-width apart. Suddenly, I was very aware of my body and I thought this: How long has it been since I stood around in this Wonder Woman pose?

I’m profound like that sometimes.

And, too, it’s actually a really good posture for my back. The posture not only keeps me from slouching, but it also puts me in a very balanced position with my shoulders back and spine stretched erect. I stood like that a lot about a hundred years ago in the days after I first injured my back. It felt good. I don’t know why I stopped doing it so much, other than that I started working indoors more, with lots of people around, and you get bumped a lot when you take up lots of space like that. People just don’t respect the Wonder Woman like they should.

Two days after my profound thought, the universe — through the unlikely conduit of Netflix’s automatically generated suggestion list — recommended I watch a TEDTalk video of a presentation by social psychologist Ann Cuddy on her research into the real value of what she calls the power pose. It’s 21 minutes long, but worth every minute of your time whether you’re a man or woman … or both … or neither. No one’s excluded.

My take away is to stand like Wonder Woman for two minutes every day for a while. We’ll see what comes of it, though if nothing else, my back will appreciate it.

I feel awesomer already at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

Well, I’m not avoiding you for your own sake. It’s for mine.

I don’t want to have to declare my next Give-A Shit project. Don’t make me say it. Don’t make me make it a reality … .

Exercise every day.

AAAaaaw, hellfire, it’s out there. Gaaah!

Now, I gotta do it. I’m doomed! DOOMED.

I was going to do something food-related because I’ve been anticipating doing so since around Thanksgiving, thus I have conducted myself accordingly since then: eating constantly as if I will not have another meal. Ever. Because the loud irrational voice in my head keeps declaring that I’m going to give up eating altogether, and that sends the rest of my brain into a must-eat tizzy.

But, no, I’m writing more, sitting at the computer more, it’s winter, I’m lazy, yada yada yada, so I think I need to pay attention to the needs of my back first. That means exercise and stretching.

I’ve been whining in my head about this for a few days now. Anticipating my hatred of this prospect, despite the fact that, if done right, it will eventually make me feel better. (Or so the infamous “they” say.)

I have to keep the goal tentative and vague because I don’t know when the weather will allow walking, which seems to be the only exercise I can do without causing more damage. Unfortunately, if I can’t walk that leaves indoor exercising, which history and tradition have proven is just a perfectly awesome way for me to over-do things and hurt myself. Badly enough to require medical assistance. Whatever.

Therefore, in the interest of not damaging myself, finally, maybe, this year, I’m shooting for 15 minutes a day. Don’t laugh at me. I can walk a mile in deep snow, bundled for winter in that time. I can do three or four sets of crunches and pushups (yes, wimpy crunches, but I do full pushups so I’m not all puss), plus a few stretches. I can do my tai chi warm up and the 24-position routine. If I’ve been out shovelling or performing other heinous and strenuous activity, I can do three sets of my back stretches.

I’m just sayin’, I have options. Options that I might survive intact.

I’m not a believer in exercising every day, but I’m pretty sure that if I set my goal at five days a week I’ll be hunting ways to put it off for another day, tell myself I’ll make up days next week and do other stupid things to cheat myself. So every day. 15 minutes. Don’t be a wimp. It’s only 15 stupid, friggin’ minutes.

In the words of the Greek god Nike, “Just do it!” I think that’s written on a Greek tablet somewhere,

Yeah, I’m pretty sure at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

The trouble with drinking lots of water is the constant peeing.

I used to make three stops, maybe four, in a day. But now? 64 ounces a day now? It’s just me making tracks to the nearest bathroom. And you would think that having to get up in the middle of the night — every night — would be the worst part.

But no.

I have to pee at work every day now. Sometimes twice. That’s the worst part. The women’s bathroom at work, I’m certain, does not meet OSHA standards and is in violation of some kind of human rights laws.

Sure, it’s clean, but that’s not the only standard by which a bathroom should be judged. It’s also a little, unheated closet-thing that is right there off the big, open room where editorial staff has their cubicles, not too far from my very own desk in fact. The little closet has tiled floors and one painted cement block which is also the exterior wall to the building that is opposite the door which is one of those cheesy hollow-core doors like you see in cheap-ass old trailer houses, such as the one I live, so I know whereof I speak.

Here’s the problem, you go in to pee and the little tinkly (or big gushy) noise you make doing your beeswax echoes off the tile and the cement wall and out through the thin door to be heard by everyone in the freakin’ room. Of all the things I really don’t care about and will hang out there for the world, this is not one. I am, in fact, a little hinky about public bathrooms. If we’re buds, you and I, no problem. We walk into adjoining stalls and piddle away without a break in conversation.

However, I don’t want to share some things with coworkers.

Back when I couldn’t make it till I went home only maybe once every week or two, I used to just suck it up, tell myself that everybody pees and go in there. Not make a big deal out of it … except, yeah, I’d make sure I started pulling TP off that noisy holder right away to cover up the initial rush of noise. Then one day this week I realized I was getting a little psycho about that, really yanking on the TP end to make that thing rattle and squeak, then turning it back to squeak and rattle a few squares of paper back onto the roll, then squeaking it back off. It seemed a little excessive, and slightly, y’know, more than quirky, maybe obsessive. Whatever.

I had to start being mature about it.

Now I wait until someone has turned on the defective fan in the men’s bathroom — that sound rattles through the whole building, and someone would have to be standing there with their ear to a cup against the door to hear any sound in the bathroom. Problem solved.

What? You think I’m going to turn on the fan in the women’s bathroom? Voluntarily? Then they’ll think I’m in there farting!!

Hydration is complicated at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

John suffers from character spectrum disorder like the rest of us, possessing the gamut of qualities from awful to awesome, some qualities more than others. And he does his best to try to improve himself, sometimes harder than others. Just like the rest of us.

One of the things he does that I am very fascinated by is taking on huge tasks, that require an inordinate amount of time to complete. He just keeps chipping away on them until the end.

For example, he built an airplane. For those of you who don’t know, he has only one arm. He built an airplane despite that. And it wasn’t an assemble-it-yourself box of parts (which I always imagine coming in a wooden crate from the Acme airplane company, like in a Wyle E. Coyote cartoon). It was a home-built ariplane from a set of drawings and a pile of materials. It took six years, and he got maybe a few hundred hours of help total from me and a few other people. The rest? All him.

As impressive as that is, I’m actually more impressed by other times he shows this amazing stick-to-it-iveness. The mundane times. If you stay focused on the airplane project, at the end you get to fly this really cool sporty airplane all over, woohoo! But the 40’x70′ shop we bought with the land came with the floor coated in roughly 1/4″ of caked-on, baked-on, dirt-infused grease; soot and grease covered parts and tools and walls and equipment and, well, everything; along with the accumulated clutter of decades — some of it old, some of broken, bent or otherwise hinky, and some of it useable, but most of that at least in need of tuning. Think Pig Pen only with black grease instead of dirt. Every week John just chips away at cleaning, decluttering and repairing.

Sure, at the end he’ll have a clean shop so we won’t get black just walking in the door and we’ll have more storage for our things, but none of that seems to be worth the effort it will take to clean, repair and make safer all that needs be done in there. On top of it all, it’s always needing cleaning just from daily use.

Some days I think we should have an “accidental” oil spill next to an open flame, right after we’ve taken the good stuff outside to “give it some air.” (My luck, we’ll have an accidental fire now, and the insurance company won’t pay up because I said that, but I’ll leave it in — flirt with danger.)

The thing is the cleaning, repairing, etc. is the right thing to do. It’s functional as is, but it’s not right, so forgets the size of the entire task and he just chips away at it.

He explains it like this: It’s like eating an elephant. You can’t sit down and eat a whole elephant for lunch. You just have to keep taking bites out of the elephant and, eventually, it’s gone. You’ve done it.

Once I get past the fact that the imagery is gross (I always have to imagine that the elephant is cut up and wrapped in neat white packages labelled “burger” or “steak,” and it’s all kept in a giant walk-in freezer to prevent bloating and spoilage) and I disregard the fact that John hates leftovers as if he grew up privileged (one of the annoying characteristics he’s changing for my sake — and because I repeatedly tell him “Supper is leftovers or whatever you want to cook”), I really admire his method of keeping himself motivated.

Some days he’ll walk into the house and declare, “I took another bite out of the elephant!” and he sounds proud and happy … and not overwhelmed.

That’s a good thing.

It’s the inspiration for the plan behind the Year of Living Give-A-Shitly. In fact, I was going to call it the Year of the Elephant, but I kept forgetting the name (message me privately if you need that joke explained).

To be honest, he’s been blamed for worse at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

 

Not so many years ago my dad commented to me that when I was a small kid I always asked interesting questions and made interesting observations. The example he gave is that I asked why daddy deer have horns and mommy deer don’t. He said he told me that the daddy deer need them to fight. I apparently thought about that a moment and commented that if that’s the case then the mommy deer should have them because they raise the babies and should have horns to use them fighting to protect the babies.

I remember thinking after he told that little story: “Wow, maybe I really am clever.”

In the past few-ish years I’ve come to ask just one short question more and more: “Why?” And not coming up with an answer.

Clearly I peaked early in life, and my only claim to mental acuity beyond the average 2-to-3-year-old asking the same simple question is that I also rephrase it: “How come?,” “What’s the purpose?” and “Is there a point to this?”

That, now, is my only evidence of advancing sophistication. Such as it is.

I’m not here today to delve into those questions, although I will say this: Don’t worry. I’m not suicidal. Unless I’m trying to eat-and-do-nothing myself to death. The good news, though, is that death by lassitude takes a few decades, so my loved ones will have time for an intervention.

I am here today to – maybe, probably, possibly – make an ass out of myself.

I’m doing the thing every expert tells people they shouldn’t because they’re setting themselves up for failure: I’m making a New Year’s resolution.

I have spent many years falling into this general state of apathy, and I have a long list of things I wish to make different, but I’m not going to set a failure minefield by making a physical list of them, changing everything at once (or in a year), or even formulating a plan.

Given my genetics, there is a strong likelihood that I could like another 40-50 years, with a high probability that at least the next 35 of those years will be sans dementia/Alzheimer’s. That’s a long time to wallow in apathy, and I’m almost as apathetic as one can get without being declared catatonic.

As I said, I have no plan, but I do have a guideline. Every week or so I’m going to try changing something, meeting a goal, starting a new habit, whatever. Some of them might take longer than a week to wrap my brain around. I suspect that at some point I’ll be overloaded with so many changes.

I’ve already implemented a few things that are ongoing projects (don’t make me say struggles). More will come about those later.

This week (or so) my goal is simply to drink more water. I know this sounds stupid but, if I remember, sometime in the future I’ll explain why it’s so important. Trust me, I need water. I need to consciously put effort into hydrating myself – 64 ozs. of water each day.

And, of course, I am blogging again. So that’s two things this week. I’m assuming I can handle it.

I have, if you’re wondering, been doing more writing, but I’ve wanted to get back to this. I write blog entries in my head. A lot. I just don’t commit myself to this, the sitting here and writing them in my blog. Now I’m trying. I may fail, but I’m trying.

This blog entry is an uncomfortably personal declaration to the world, yes, but I’m doing it because, well, if I don’t, I won’t start blogging again. I am compelled by my nature to share the things that my brain is obsessing about or share nothing at all.

Nothing at all was lonely. I felt like I had left things hanging out that needed to be on a shelf for display or zippered up for politeness’ sake.

I was hoping to think of a kick-ass name for this new journey, but the only thing I could come up with is:

“The Year of Living Give-A-Shitly” at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com.

Not so many years ago my dad commented to me that when I was a small kid I always asked interesting questions and made interesting observations. The example he gave is that I asked why daddy deer have horns and mommy deer don’t and he told me that the daddy deer need them to fight. I apparently thought about that a moment and commented that if that’s the case then the mommy deer should have them because they raise the babies and should have horns to use them fighting to protect the babies.

I remember thinking after he told that little story: “Wow, maybe I really am clever.”

In the past few-ish years I’ve come to ask just one short question more and more: “Why?” And not coming up with an answer. Clearly I peaked early in life, and my only claim to mental acuity beyond the average a 2-to-3-year-old asking the same simple question is that I also rephrase it: “How come?,” “What’s the purpose?” and “Is there a point to this?”

That, now, is my only evidence of advancing sophistication. Such as it is.

I’m not here today to delve into those questions, although I will say this: Don’t worry. I’m not suicidal. Unless I’m trying to eat and do-nothing myself to death, but death by lassitude takes a few decades, so there will be time for an intervention.

I am here today to – maybe, probably, possibly – make an ass out of myself. I am doing the thing every expert tells people they shouldn’t because they’re setting themselves up for failure: I’m making a New Year’s resolution.

I have spent many years falling into this general state of apathy, and I have a long list of things I wish to make different, but I’m not going to make a physical list of them. I’m not going to try to change everything at once, or even in a year. I don’t even have a plan.

I just know that things have to change. I have to change them myself (shocking as that is). Given my genetics, there is a strong likelihood that I could like another 40-50 years, with a high probability that at least the next 35 of those years will be sans dementia/Alzheimer’s. That’s a long time to wallow in apathy, and I’m almost as apathetic as one can get without being declared catatonic.

As I said, I have no plan, but I do have this: Every week or so I’m going to try changing something, meeting a goal, starting a new habit, whatever. Some of them might take longer than a week to wrap my brain around. I suspect that at some point I’ll be in overload with so many changes.

I’ve already implemented a few things that are ongoing projects (don’t make me say struggles).

This week (or so) my goal is simply to drink more water. I know this sounds stupid, and if I remember sometime in the future, I’ll explain why it’s so important, but trust me, I need water. I need to consciously put effort into providing myself water – 64 ozs. each day.

And, of course, I am blogging again. So that’s two things this week, but I think I can handle it.

I have, if you’re wondering, been doing more writing, but I’ve wanted to get back to this. I write blog entries in my head. A lot. I just don’t commit myself to this, the sitting here and writing them in my blog. Now I’m trying. In fact, I’ll toast with a big swig of water to that.

Feel free to comment or email me, join in on this endeavor. It’s a personal one,yes, but I’m sitting here declaring it to the world because, well, I am compelled by my nature to share the things that my brain is obsessing about or share nothing at all.

Nothing at all was lonely.

I was hoping to think of a kick-ass name for this journey, but the only thing I could come up with is this:

“The Year of Living Give-A-Shitly” at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com.

I cut my hair this weekend and, since putting the scissors down, every time that I have looked at or gotten distracted by my hair, I have thought this phrase first: “What the hell?”

As a rite of passage into adulthood my painfully stick-straight hair decided to turn curly, but only the hairs that grow out from my ears down, and more on the right side than the left, so that I had to leave the right side 1/2″ longer than the left.

And it’s grown more and more curly every year so by now I have to layer my hair or else the underside curls shrink up in length to be shorter than the upper hairs. And more so on my right side (which now has to be 3/4″ longer — on the underside — to match the left side). It’s complicated. I would love to be one of those women who can wash their hair, scrape a comb through it and go. I resent every moment I’ve ever spent fixing my hair.

All that said, one simple, reliable truth about my hair is that no matter what the style of cut, the left side turns under and the right side flips up and tries some crazy shit. Always. Aaaalllwaaaysss. Until Sunday, June 17, 2012.

Now the right side turns under and the left side flips up. The right side looks good (or at least salvageable or maybe passable) and the left side looks like I combed it with a Cuisinart dual-speed, stainless-steel mixer.

I spent 20 minutes fixing my hair this morning. 20 minutes. Tweeeennntyyyy minutes. (I had nightmare flashbacks to high school.) And after that major time investment, it still looked a sketchy. (See earlier PTSD reference.) And, by the time I got to work, the left side had flopped, like the left side had taken a steamy, over-crowded school bus to work — where I arrived late because I had been fixing. my. hair. for. 20. minutes.

What is my world coming to at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

I had to complete the thing I hate at work today, and you know I hate the word hate, but I had to put together my entry of three weekly columns for the Montana Newspaper Association year-end excellence awards. Hate it.

When I reread my stuff, I think anything from “holy hell, I can’t believe they printed tripe like this” to “meh, I don’t dislike it.” On rare occasion, I’ve been known to think “hmmm, some parts of that showed promise.” (I have to throw myself a bone once in a while.)

But when I have to enter my columns in a contest to be judged as the three best representations of my year’s work, they all suck on a profound level of sucky suckness. I struggle to come up with a small pile of stuff that, at least, doesn’t bring on a touch of acid reflux, then I beg John and one person at work to choose the three least suckiest of the bunch. I carefully bundle the suckers together, throw them on the entry pile and walk away, nauseous and heart-attacky from a medical condition called sudden-onset creative crisis.

After I compiled my entry this time, I discovered that this year the judges are the daily papers from an East Coast area where the daily newspapers go out to millions of “local” people who live in places called cities — as in cities with populations greater than my entire state. Oh, yeah, that’s my demographic right? My hicksville shinola is really set to impress there.

So I’ve had this little cloud of despair hanging over me since noon. I don’t like little clouds of despair. Sure they’re better than big, dark clouds of despair, but I don’t handle well feeling in need of hand-holding and nose-wiping.

Then someone — a reader someone whom I don’t even know — wrote me a nice note this afternoon. It was nicer than “I’ve read your stuff and barely detected an odor of suck.” I know, I was amazed, too! (I’ve been assuming it was spontaneous, but if any of my friends or family paid you to write that note, new reader, please wait at least a week to tell me.)

Despair feeling was suddenly hardly detectable.

Then the whole hang-gliding-in-a-storm emotional turmoil of the day reminded me of another thing that’s been despairing me lately: blog.

Neglected blog o’ mine.

Here’s the deal. I totally injured myself the last part of October. Let’s not dwell on it, this entry is already long enough most of you’ve drifted off. Let’s just say that during the worst weeks I wasn’t able to manage socks and underwear without John’s help, and the road to recovery was long, painful and fraught with re-injury.

And, yes, John’s a saint (though he claimed that putting the socks on me was more than enough payment for being able to do the underwear. Guy-perspective isn’t always bad).

November was a bust. I spent December gradually getting better, exercising (no shit, remind me to tell you about that) and building my sit-at-the-computer tolerance.

Then in January, I realized that I felt creatively revitalized writing my column (as opposed to “gads, I have to pull another 600 words out of my ass again this week”), and I was working on my other writing-projects-that-shall-remain-nameless-because-I-don’t-want-to-jinx-them.

It felt good, but I knew I was able to do them because I wasn’t spending time on this blog.

But I don’t want to abandon my blog, either. I’ve made many a mental note on things I want to share here and have started a dozen of them. I’ve missed sharing.

The problem is that I can’t seem to type, or think, any faster or more focused than the average 9-year-old. This is compounded by the fact that I always want to say a lot of blah blah blah, and it takes as much time to edit down the blah blah blah as it does to write it.

Many days, I wonder why I want to keep this up — or, really, do any of the writing.

It’s harder to be me than it would seem on the surface.

I’ve been trying to psych myself up to adding the blog back into my writing mix. It’s a lot easier to think about than actually do — then I get a nice note on a bad day and here I am actually blogging, and declaring that I’ll try to strike some kind of balance to be able keep blogging, without losing the other writing.

I don’t know how — and I still don’t know why I write — but just bear with me, and I shall “endeavor to persevere.”

Yes, we quote “The Outlaw Josey Wales” at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com


So, how’s your day at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

I’ve been digging and pounding on things again. My hands and forearms are so exhausted that they don’t work right tonight. They’ve stopped tremoring every time I try to operate a pen or an eating utensil, but they’re still weak enough that my handwriting looks even more like that of a serial killer and I may not have the strength remaining to overeat my way to a happier me in this crisis.

Oh, the horror at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com